Part Four - Uses of Heat
"My God, it's hot as hell in here," Grace said, a wave of dry heat smacking her dead in the face when she stepped into the house. Rip barreled out the door in search of cool waves at her first opportunity, knocking Grace backward in the process. She dropped her briefcase, shucked her coat and shoes, and moved over to the environment control on the wall. Then she walked over to the entertainment console and turned off the television.
Dana was still in a very deep sleep on the couch. Grace crossed over to the perspiring woman.
"I don't know why you sleep on the couch when I'm not home," she whispered to the sleeping woman and pushed the damp bangs away from her lover's eyes. "It's too short for you." She leaned forward and gently placed a kiss on her forehead, feeling for fever.
Dana's blue eyes flickered open at the moment the soft touch disappeared.
"What time is it?" she asked, barely able to speak from a parched throat.
"You missed your flight," the confused nanotech said.
"No, Dana, it's still nighttime."
Dana was in that I-went-to-bed-too-early-and-lost-concept-of-time state of confusion. "I thought you'd be home later," she finally said, lifting herself to a sitting position. Oooh, it hurt.
"I couldn't work knowing you were hurting," she said, running the back of her hand across Dana's clammy cheek.
"Who says I'm hurting?" Dana replied defensively, pulling herself to her feet and walking to the kitchen for a drink, determined but unable to keep the stiffness out of her walk.
"This is nothing. You should have seen the shape I was in after I was stabbed three times. Now that hurt."
"And I bet you never let anyone know how much."
"Right fuckin' on," Dana said proudly, then guzzled a bottle of water.
Grace sighed, realizing damage control was going to take quite a deal of effort. She followed her into the kitchen and cornered her by the refrigerator.
"So you're feeling no pain?"
"So if I poke you right here..." she reached toward Dana's hip, "...it won't bother you?"
Dana suddenly grabbed Grace's moving hand. "If you poke me right there, I'll...I'll...."
"You'll what? You couldn't hurt me if you wanted to, Dana."
Dana gave her a nasty look.
"I want to know when you hurt."
"That's not what you said earlier," Dana explained tensely.
"I know. I wasn't handling what happened today very well, and I'm sorry. I do care what happens to you, so much that it frightens me."
Grace watched a moment of indecision flicker in the blue eyes, the hesitation of someone who has been hurt so deeply that she can never again make a personal choice without having it affect the response time. Grace stepped in to speed up the process, sliding her arms around the larger woman's warm torso and carefully hugging her. When the nano tech did not push her away, she leaned her head on the cushy bosom.
Slowly Dana's arms crept around her as well, and a face nuzzled the soft, spicy hair.
Less than a minute later the two lovers were wrapped in a deep, life-affirming kiss that was bound to lead them to a horizontal position, likely in the bedroom, had both bodies been physically capable. As was the situation, one was not.
"Yes, I can," Dana argued as they sat down together on the couch. "We've done it before, when I had the stab wound."
"That wasn't a good idea, and I thought you were dying. We could have torn the injury wide open, and you could have bled to death. Plus, these injuries are more serious, and I guarantee in another ten hours you'll be hurting even more."
"We can pretend I'm dying."
"That's not funny."
"You know, Shakespeare called orgasms 'little deaths,'" she continued, caressing the light down on her doctor's arm.
"No," Grace said, stifling a laugh and pulling her arm away.
"Then how about some heavy necking and groping?"
"Like you would be able to stop once we started."
"Like you would." A nip at Grace's earlobe forced the doctor off the couch.
"Do you want something to eat?"
"Well, yeah," Dana replied adamantly.
"I'm going to make spaghetti," the blonde explained, moving out of arms' length and heading for the kitchen.
Dana disappeared into the bathroom for quite some time while Grace banged the pots around and browned the hamburger.
When Dana reappeared she had showered and was wearing baggy, sky-blue sleep pants and a white, sleeveless T-shirt, a long scar cutting down like a brand on her shoulder. Grace watched her creep slowly toward the kitchen, thinking about how many times she and Dana had played Name that Scar and, of course, not stopping at the shoulder punctures.
"Cold shower," the tech explained. Then Dana smiled and slid gingerly onto a cushioned stool at the counter to watch Grace cut onions. Tears were slipping from Grace's tear ducts and running freely to her chin.
"Put a piece of bread in your mouth," Dana suggested and reached for a "Laser World" magazine.
"It stops the tearing. Or try a piece of ice in your mouth."
Grace eyed her skeptically.
"Go on, try it." Dana put her glasses on and opened her magazine.
Grace placed her knife on the counter and reached into the freezer for an ice cube. She placed it into her mouth and began to suck. Sure enough, the tears stopped.
The water was boiling, so Grace added the noodles after breaking them in half.
"Why did you do that?"
"You're not supposed to break the noodles."
"The pot is too small."
"So, use a bigger pot, Grace."
Grace stirred the noodles. Dana went back to reading.
A few minutes later Dana looked up. "How long have those noodles been in there?"
"I don't know."
"You're supposed to time them, not wait until all the water boils out."
"Be quiet. I know what I'm doing."
"Your noodles are always either soggy or burned."
"You don't have to eat them, Dana." She dumped a ton of onions into the sauce that was bubbling wildly.
"You have the heat too high and you're getting splatters all over the wall," Dana complained.
"It will clean up."
"You mean I will clean it up."
"Do you want salad?"
"Will you actually wash the lettuce this time?"
"Look," Grace said, lazily pointing the chopping knife in the tech's direction. "If you don't be quiet, I'm never going to cook again."
Dana bit her tongue to hold back a smart retort. It was rare to get Grace into the kitchen, no matter what the damage was. She turned her attention back to her magazine article.
"What time does your flight leave?"
"Seven. I should be back around nine tomorrow night if I can catch a flight."
"What about the training? You were looking forward to that."
"It can wait."
"Didn't Babs have to pull in a few favors to get you into that class?"
Grace grunted. "I'm not leaving you for a week."
"I've been much worse, Grace," Dana said. "Besides, I'm going in to work tomorrow to try to clean up some of the damage."
"No, you're not."
"Like you can stop me," Dana chuckled.
" ;I'll revoke your ID while I'm gone."
"And I'll hack into the system and make a new one. Besides, you should go just to keep yourself from having to reject all of my sexual advances while I'm healing."
Grace found herself relaxing and smiling at her friend's comment. "It would make things with Barbara easier. I mean, after the explosion, throwing away her favors may not be a good idea. I'll think about it. But I'm hesitant because you'll be hurting as soon as the analgesic we coated your burns with before we applied the grafts breaks down."
"You mean that you covered me with numby stuff on the inside?"
"Yeah, otherwise your nerves would be screaming out right now and you'd be crawling out of your skin."
Dana nervously flipped the page, dreading ten hours from then. "So, are Sylvia and Jack still going away this weekend?"
Grace looked up at the brunette, remembering the earlier spat that seemed ridiculously silly in comparison to the other events of the afternoon. She nodded yes.
"You'd better not get stuck in D.C., because I'm not taking that kid on by myself."
"Now, would I do something like that to you?" the doctor said, leaning up on the counter and kissing her on the mouth.
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